Model code of conduct: Dissenting opinions won’t be part of orders, says Election Commission
Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa wrote thrice to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora conveying his decision to stay away from proceedings related to the MCC if the dissenting views were not incorporated in the orders.
The Election Commission on Tuesday decided by a majority of 2:1, that dissenting opinions in Model Code of Conduct (MCC) disputes will not be made part of any final order and will only be included in internal files, as per previous practice.
In view of the poll panel’s decision, it is learnt that Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa will continue to recuse himself from the proceedings related to MCC complaints.
“In the meeting of the Election Commission held today, regarding the issue of MCC, it was inter alia decided that proceedings of the Commission meeting would be drawn, including the views of all the Commission Members. Thereafter, formal instructions to this effect would be issued in consonance with extant laws/rules, etc.” the EC said.
It is learnt that Mr. Lavasa maintained his stand that a minority view should get reflected in the MCC orders.
Issue over speeches
The issue came up before the full bench comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Mr. Lavasa and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, after Mr. Lavasa raised objections over his dissenting opinions not being included in the orders on certain speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.
Mr. Lavasa wrote thrice to Mr. Arora, conveying his decision to stay away from the proceeding related to the MCC if dissenting views were not incorporated in the orders.
“However, there is no such precedent. According to the existing rules, only the majority decision in case of non-quasi-judicial issues like the MCC is communicated to the parties concerned. The divergent opinion is recorded in files,” said a senior EC official.
Following news reports that Mr. Lavasa had recused himself from MCC matters, Mr. Arora earlier issued a statement saying: “It needs to be mentioned that in the last meeting of the Commission on May 14, it was unanimously decided that some groups shall be formed to deliberate the issues that arose in the conduct of Lok Sabha Elections, 2019, just as it was done after the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. Of the 13 issues and areas identified, Model Code of Conduct is one of them.”
Former EC Legal Advisor S.K. Mendiratta, who has worked with the poll body for about 53 years, had also told The Hindu that in case of a difference of opinion on MCC matters, the dissent note is recorded in the files and only the majority view is communicated through an order.
The dissenting ruling is made part of the order only in quasi judicial matters like the disputes related to the Representation of the People Act and election symbols.